Sunburn and Skin Cancer
Sunburn is inflammation of the skin caused by overexposure of ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. Although sunburn often results in short term pain, redness, and dryness, the long term effects of sunburn can lead to serious consequences including skin cancer.
Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is considered to be the most common form of cancer in the United States and the incidence of NMSC is on the rise. The current methods available to protect against UV radiation include the use of hats and or protective clothing, sunscreens, avoidance of midday sun, and seeking shade. However, compliance with these methods is low due to the inconvenience of use, forgetting to reapply, desire to be tan, and protective clothing being too hot to wear. The introduction of an oral supplement as an adjunctive treatment for the protection against the harmful effects of UV exposure may provide a simple solution.
Oral Supplements as Sun Protection
Polypodium leucotomos extract and Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3) are two oral supplements that have proven to be effective photoprotective agents. Polypodium leucotomos extract is derived from a Central and South American fern plant.¹,² Studies have shown that it possesses properties ranging from antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and photoprotective.¹ In the U.S., it is currently marketed as an oral dietary supplement (Heliocare) with a recommended dose of one 240 mg capsule 30 minutes before sun exposure, followed by an additional 240 mg capsule 3 hours after prolonged sun exposure. It has proven to be well-absorbed, well-tolerated, with negligible risk of side effects, and no recognizable toxic effects.²
Nicotinamide’s photoprotective effects range from replenishing cellular energy after UV radiation, enhancing DNA repair, reducing UV-induced immune suppression, reducing number of actinic keratoses (precancerous lesions), and improving the skin barrier function. It’s recommended dosage is 500 mg two times per day. It has been found to be safe and well-tolerated even at high doses.3,4
Choudhry SZ, Bhatia N, Ceilley R, et al. Role of oral Polypodium leucotomos extract in
dermatologic diseases: a review of the literature.J Drugs Dermatol. 2014;13(2):148-153.
Winkelmann RR, Del Rosso J, Rigel DS. Polypodium leucotomos extract: a status report on
clinical efficacy and safety. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015;14(3):254-261.
Damian DL. Nicotinamide for skin cancer chemoprevention. Australas J Dermatol.
Chen AC Martin AJ, Choy B, et al. A Phase 3 Randomized Trial of Nicotinamide
for Skin-Cancer Chemoprevention. N Engl J Med. 2015;373:1618-1626.